If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a generation. This famous quote aptly explains the potential of positive impact women are capable of contributing to society. Women are known to be better multitaskers and long term planners. When they are economically stable, they spend more resources on improving their family’s hygiene, health, education and on the betterment of their communities.
By nature, women play the role of protectors of the environment. According to a survey conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme on public attitudes towards environment, women are more likely to choose a lower standard of living with fewer health risks than opt for a higher living standard with greater health risks as compared to men.
Environmental degradation has and continues to have devastating effects on people’s health and quality of life and women are at the forefront of this battle, especially in the developing world. When women are affected so are their children - a given co-relation.
Previously, it was considered that women were only passive recipients of aid and had nothing to offer in terms of active participation in the development process. This perspective has undergone a u-turn with the realization that there will be no sustainable development without their inclusion. In fact, some experts have a staunch belief that one of the key reasons for stunted progress so far has been women’s exclusion.
Traditionally, women have often shown their leadership skills when it comes to keeping a check and even reducing the wastage of resources, recycling them and promoting environmental ethics. As home makers, mothers are in many cases economic providers at the same time for their families, they are more sensitive to the need for conservation.
Around the globe, irrespective of whether a country is developed, developing or under-developed, if the topic of environment conservation is being discussed or action taken on it, we will get to see many local female voices. There is growing evidence that women are taking up key roles in the implementation of environment friendly practices at the grassroots level and are getting involved in policy making too, an indication that we are headed in the right direction.
Rachel Carson, an American marine biologist and conservationist, is credited for advancing the global environmental movement. One of her books, Silent Spring, was a table turner in instigating discussions on the use of synthetic pesticides, which resulted in a nationwide ban in the USA on DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) and other pesticides. The associated grassroots environmental movement also led to the birth of the US Environmental Protection Agency. It is important to note that this happened between 1955 and 1962, a time when not many were talking about the subject.
South Asia too is witnessing an increase in the number of women conservationist, especially at the grassroots level. These women are home makers, farmers and professionals working in various industries in the day but taking out time to contribute towards environment conservation as well.